LONDON (Reuters) - Musician and philanthropist Bob Geldof, who in 1984 inspired a host of rock stars to record a charity single for Africa, will raise money to combat Ebola with a new version of the song.
Geldof, frontman for Irish new wave band The Boomtown Rats, pulled together the Band Aid supergroup for “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” three decades ago to help those affected by famine in Ethiopia.
Geldof confirmed at a news conference in London that the song would be re-recorded, with words to the original version, which he co-wrote with Midge Ure, tweaked to play down the previous emphasis on feeding the hungry.
He said he took the step after the United Nations had contacted him, saying help was urgently needed to prevent the disease from spreading beyond West Africa.
“This is a particularly pernicious illness because it renders humans untouchable and that is sickening,” Geldof said.
“Mothers can’t comfort their children in their dying hours, lovers can’t cradle each other,” he added, referring to the fact that the virus is spread by close bodily contact.
The new line-up is expected to include boy band One Direction and singers Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, British media reports said.
The original song, which raised 8 million pounds ($11 million), featured some of the era’s biggest acts including U2’s Bono, George Michael and David Bowie. It has been re-recorded twice in 1989 and 2004.
The song topped the charts in 1984 and sold millions of copies, with proceeds going to Ethiopian famine relief.
They followed it up with Live Aid in 1985, a transatlantic concert that raised an estimated $100 million for Ethiopia.
Ebola has killed 4,950 people out of more than 13,000 infected since it broke out in West Africa earlier this year, according to the World Health Organization, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; Editing by Michael Roddy and Angus MacSwan